A New Era in the Evolution of Man
By Steven Potter
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400069057, 208pp.)
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
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This compelling new book covers the most important revolution since Darwin—how cutting-edge genetic science will soon allow us to speed up and transform our own evolution, and the moral choices we must make as we improve, alter, and even duplicate ourselves.
The fact is that, until now, human evolution has been exceedingly slow. But there’s about to be a profound change in this process, with a perfect storm of revolutions in the fields of genetic modification, stem cells, DNA sequencing, and embryo manipulation. The result is that it will soon be possible for parents to consciously choose the genes of their children, defining their intelligence, appearance, athletic ability, and health. The ramifications could be enormous, with each generation smarter, more technologically proficient, and better able to design the genes of their offspring. Where will this evolution on steroids take us?
Designer Genes presents a balanced view, describing the underlying science in accessible terms and discussing the pros and cons of implementing this new technology. A leading expert in the field, Steven Potter covers a broad range of topics on this challenging subject, presenting fascinating details of case histories and ongoing discoveries:
• the true story of “Adam,” who as an early embryo was genetically selected to save his sickly sister
• the surprising human genome—and DNA sequence comparisons across species
• dogs, an informative example of human-driven evolution
• the sequencing revolution, with the price of determining a person’s complete DNA sequence becoming much more affordable
• genetic diseases and what is being discovered about them every day
• stem cells and their almost magical powers
Designer Genes also investigates such controversial questions as: When is an embryo a person? Are we smart enough to pick optimal gene combinations? What will the government’s role be?
Science has brought us an astonishing understanding of the genetic basis of life, as well as potent new power to guide the genetic destiny of humanity. What will we do next?
Steven Potter was an undergraduate at UCLA, received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School. He is currently a professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Biology, at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati. Potter has published over a hundred research papers, including more than a dozen in the prestigious journals Nature, Cell, and Science. He also co-authored the third edition of the medical school textbook Larsen’s Human Embryology and serves on the editorial boards of the science journals Transgenics and Developmental Biology. His research has covered a wide range of topics, including evolution, jumping genes, targeted modification of genes, and the study of how organs form.
“Potter guides the reader through the experiments on genetics, gene regulation and transfer, and stem cells to show how a human could be cloned and genetic modifications added to the embryo. Historic and current research in all these areas is explained clearly… This is an excellent introduction to human genetics.” –Library Journal
“Potter makes clear that understanding what genetic research entails as well as the bioethics involved is necessary for participating in public discourse and politics. Therefore, Potter’s thorough approach is to be lauded, and recommended to readers curious about this important subject, and those more urgently seeking their own genetic answers.” – Booklist